Successful social justice movements have always been grounded in the universal ethical spiritual truths that are shared by all the worlds' great religions.
It was progressive Christians who sought to abolish slavery and then bring into reality the founding father's ideal of equality of all men and women during the turbulent '60's. We too live in a time where all things are possible, and Christians on the left who are fed up with the neo-con's hijacking of Jesus have birthed a think tank to counter the Rove Machine.
The Institute of Progressive Christianity may well prove to be the catalyst for the highest ideals of civic discourse and the pursuit of a humane and compassionate public policy.
After the events of that day we call 9/11, the ethics, philosophy and morals of President Bush's favorite philosopher were neglected when this Administration chose to use fear to control and manipulate public opinion: when this Administration chose unilateral action and revenge instead of looking within at the reasons why a few angry men targeted and murdered innocent people.
Since the Reagan years, the Christian fundamentalist voice has been the only voice in the arenas of media, culture and politics. But the times they have a' changed for at this most critical moment in America when the walls of separation between Church and State have crumbled, thoughtful committed Christians on the left have united to rebuild and repair that breach and offer up a more balanced approach to faith as it relates to social and political concerns.
CrossLeft.org and the Institute of Progressive Christianity already is a primary linking portal on the web for uniting diverse and politically minded progressive Christian groups that have been operating unaware of one another.
"The fierce urgency of now" [Rev. MLK, Jr.] has knitted together a diverse group of Christians from many denominations and without any church affiliations in the struggle to resurrect the message, philosophy and ethics of Jesus of Nazareth who modeled forgiveness, love and nonviolence even while being nailed to a cross.
Both Christ and the Founding Father's of America were all about liberation, tolerance, diversity and reason, not about empire building, torture or invading other countries!
The morphing of Church and State by this Administration has fostered a Christianity that Jesus would not recognize. For the first three decades after Christ walked the earth, those that loved and followed him were not called Christians, but followers of The Way.
The Way being doing what Christ taught which was one must love and forgive one's enemies and to wake up and see that the Divine spark is already within, to care for the poor and support the oppressed. There is nothing Christian about capitalism, war or torture.
In our nation's capital the inaugural team for the project to reclaim the gospel message of compassion, justice and peace was attended by less than one hundred visionaries, scholars, published authors, social justice activists and a 2008 Presidential candidate. Mike Gravel, Senator from Alaska 1969-1981 seeks to empower we the people of America to become the lawmakers and wrest control from corporations who write legislation in 21st century America [ www.nationalinitiative.us ]
Keynote speaker Naomi Wolf, feminist author, Co-founder of the Woodhull Institute and Rhodes Scholar addressed our group. "I am here as a Jew and a friend and supporter of what you are doing. You are at a formative moment and as a social critic I see the time for a mass political left movement such as this could confronts theocracy and you have a tremendous potential to take back the country.
"As a Jew, much of what I have been hearing encourages but also worries me. You must move forward without creating the same mistakes of the religious right! Fewer than a hundred people are here, but I see this could be the groundswell for the alliance of a multi-faith social justice movement.
"You are at the Crossroads.
"Remember checks and balances? Remember when we had three distinct branches of government? As a Jew, I warn you and offer a manifesto to confront the religious right. You must separate religion from politics! The idea of an enlightened religious left is essential for the national debate and the multiplicity of voices is good for democracy. The heavily funded hegemony seeking right wing causes my tribe to recollect and worry us. We Jews share a collective memory of the Crusades and Christian theocracies that were violent towards us. There is no way a Jew can see the religious right and not think of the Crusaders! Yes, violence has been chosen as the way in all religions, but nothing is more disastrous than one who has political power to torture!
"What the Founding Father's intended was a plurality of religions, freedom for all to express their faiths, to preach privately but enact one's ethics publicly. Ethical practice and not claiming we must do this or that, because it is what Jesus said is what is required. We need activists and energy from all faiths to be involved in the political realm. Whenever anyone say's God said XYZ, one must ask whose God they are referring to.
"All faith traditions share Universal ethics but demagogues use fear and demonize the other. Ethical leaders lift people up; they speak to the 'us' and not about 'them.' Ethical leaders all agree on seven principals, the seven pillars of authentic faith which are: kindness, justice, truth telling, peacemaking, generosity, the equality of all people in God's eyes for we all carry the divine spark, and that what ever we put out comes back around.
"We go astray because this core message is so simple and universal it is difficult to put into practice.
"It is easier to perform rituals than to allow our hearts to be changed and to serve God...It is more comfortable complaining than offering a solution. It is easier to criticize than doing the dirty work of creation."
A few, thoughtful, committed progressive Christians on the left have already rolled up their sleeves and are working in the trenches at the crossroads on the road to a new course for America.
"Stand at the Crossroads and look. Ask for the ancient paths where the road is best. Walk in it and you will live in peace." -- Jeremiah 6:16